Shippers scuttle
offer to help isles

A union plan to deliver vital
goods here is sunk by management

Little hoarding seen on Oahu
Molokai, Lanai residents worry

By Dave Segal

An offer by union longshoremen on the West Coast to voluntarily move vital goods to Hawaii and Alaska fell upon deaf ears yesterday as shipping lines insisted the dockworkers agree to a contract extension before performing any work.

Union members held onto a wire yesterday as they secured it to the Alicante Carrier in Port Hueneme, Calif. After a standoff, the ship stayed in port.

Still, there was one encouraging sign in the ongoing West Coast port shutdown as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 10,500 members, agreed to accept the help of a federal mediator for the purpose of resolving the technology issue only. The sessions began today at a San Francisco hotel.

The ILWU posted a news release on its Web site yesterday that "in the face of the illegal and irresponsible lockout of dockworkers in 29 West Coast ports," it would work military cargo, move essential supplies to Hawaii and Alaska, and volunteer services to cruise lines up and down the West Coast.

But Jim Andrasick, president and chief executive officer of Matson Navigation Co., said the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shippers and terminal operators, has made it a stipulation that the ILWU would need to agree to a contract extension in order to do that.

"That has not been offered by the ILWU, so there still is an impasse," Andrasick said.

ILWU spokesman Steve Stallone said a contract extension was not an option.

"There will be no contract extension," he said. "We extended the contract from July 1 to Sept. 1. They weren't bargaining in good faith, so we're just tired of that. If they want a new contract, then bargain a new contract."

Nevertheless, Gov. Ben Cayetano said today he was encouraged by the ILWU's offer.

"I'm remaining optimistic," he said. "It's a good sign. I hope they can work out a contract extension."

In the meantime, one ship did make it out of the Sealand Terminal in Oakland yesterday, according to Stallone.

He said the Maersk Innovator, which was carrying military cargo, left in the afternoon bound for Yokohama, Japan. The ship was partially loaded before the lockout but was unable to depart. Meanwhile, Matson and CSX, which handle nearly all of the ocean freight into Hawaii, both said their ships are stacking up as they await for negotiators to reach a settlement.

"It's an accumulative problem," Andrasick said. "Every day just adds another day's worth of problems. There's no cliff we're driving off here, but it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion."

"We're planning it day by day and continuing to keep our customers informed to the extent we can," he added.

Matson currently has only two ships on the move between the West Coast and Hawaii. The Lihue is due to depart Honolulu for Los Angeles around noon today, while the R.J. Pfeiffer, which is only half-loaded because of the lockout, is due to arrive to arrive in Hawaii from Los Angeles about the same time. Andrasick said there has not been any worker slowdown on Honolulu's docks because of the West Coast situation.

"We conducted normal operations with the Lihue," Andrasick said. "It came in full and it will leave loaded."

"Those are the only ships that are due in or out of Hawaii for the rest of the week," he added. "All of our vessel assets are elsewhere -- either at sea or at anchor in Seattle, Oakland or Los Angeles."

The Kauai is in Seattle, the Matsonia arrived yesterday in Oakland and the Chief Gadao and the Ewa are in Los Angeles.

Brian Taylor, vice president and general manager of Hawaii-Guam for CSX, said the company will have four vessels on the West Coast as of this weekend.

The CSX Trader and the CSX Consumer already are at the piers in Tacoma, Wash., and Los Angeles, respectively, while the CSX Navigator, which left Honolulu last week, is at anchor in Oakland and the CSX Reliance will arrive tomorrow in Tacoma from Guam.

"When they're at the pier, they're physically tied up and are available to be worked by the labor guys once they're available," Taylor said. "When they're at anchor, they're lined up with the other ships to get into the harbor and berth at the pier."

CSX's last ship to leave Honolulu was the CSX Spirit, which left Monday for Guam. It is due to arrive Wednesday.

"We have other vessels en route to the West Coast from Guam, but they're still more than a week away from the West Coast," Taylor said. "What happens to them will be determined by how quickly we get things moving again on the West Coast."

Taylor said CSX's dockworkers are still keeping busy even though the company's vessel operations have been suspended.

"There's almost 500 containers of inbound cargo that's still in the terminal," he said. "The gates are open, and we're dispatching as customers come in to pick up their freight."

Marukai clerk Gregory Enos said yesterday that customers have not been hoarding rice.

Dock freeze fails to faze
many local shoppers

By Genevieve A. Suzuki

Some senior citizens experienced with food shortages from past dock strikes aren't rushing to buy toilet paper or rice because of the recent management lockout of West Coast dockworkers.

George Mimura, 71, who worked at Pier 8, said the West Coast dockworkers strike of 1971 "wasn't that bad."

Henry Almodova, 79, said he didn't have to hoard food during the 1971 strike because he shopped at a military commissary.

And Maggie Andrade, 66, said the dock strikes didn't compare to the food shortage during World War II.

They all shopped yesterday at Marukai Wholesale Mart on Kamehameha Highway in Kalihi.

Marukai grocery clerk Gregory Enos said the store is out of several canned products from the mainland, but toilet paper and rice are not in short supply. "It hasn't been too bad," Enos said.

Still, almost every shopping cart rolling out of Marukai yesterday included at least one 20-pound bag of rice.

When asked whether the Kaneohe Longs Drug Store was running out of toilet paper or rice, a manager responded: "Nah, we good. We're adequately stocked."

A Moiliili Star Market manager also reported "just the regular business."

However, Costco in Iwilei and Waipio ran out of toilet paper despite limits on the number of packages that could be purchased.

George and Helen Mimura shopped for "nothing really special."

During the 100-day strike in 1971, people hoarded basic items so they wouldn't be forced to buy them at more expensive prices, Helen Mimura said.

"It helped because stores would raise the prices," said Helen, who noted the necessities included rice, toilet paper and canned goods such as Spam.

But this time around, George Mimura said he isn't worried. "They've got a lot of stock," he said. "Before, had to scrounge. Nowadays, got so many big companies."

Helen Mimura said she believes the most problems develop when people panic. "When people hoard, that's when they run out."

At one of the tables in Marukai, Henry and Kimiko Almodova relaxed.

Henry Almodova said food was scarce during a 1930s dockworkers strike on Kauai. "The strike lasted for a little while, and the longshoremen really struggled," he said.

The community pulled together to help each other, Almodova said. "Everybody helped each other out."

Pausing between bites of yakisoba at Marukai, Andrade said: "I remember my dad standing in line for poi for hours (during World War II). We weren't prepared because we weren't expecting it."

Sometimes food was so hard to come by that Andrade's family, who lived in Kakaako, would use hot chocolate over their rice for flavor. "It was hard," she said.

Andrade isn't sweating the lockout.

"Every time they told us to get ready, it didn't happen," she said. "Not like we're gonna starve."


Molokai and Lanai
customers stock up

By Gary T. Kubota

Store owners on Molokai and Lanai, worried about the shutdown of West Coast docks, said some customers have been stocking up on certain goods in the event of a shortage.

"People are buying more toilet paper than normal," said Judy Egusa, manager of Friendly Isle Market Center on Molokai.

Egusa said she expects the shutdown at the docks will not last long. "I don't think the president will allow this," she said.

Molokai, with a population of about 7,000, has one barge a week arriving from Maui and two barges a week from Oahu.

Egusa said her business expected a run on some goods, so it has stocked its warehouse with a lot of toilet paper, diapers and rice -- enough to last a month.

She said she relies mainly on Oahu farmers for produce, but her store could feel the pinch if bigger stores begin buying most of the island's food production. "It's going to be very interesting how this works out," she said.

Wally Tamashiro, manager of Richard's Shopping Center Inc. on Lanai, said some people came in Tuesday to buy more toilet paper and rice because of the news of the West Coast dock shutdown.

Tamashiro said his store does not have much storage space and relies on a weekly barge for supplies. "I ordered more items, but I don't know if they all going to come in," Tamashiro said.

On the Kalaupapa peninsula in northern Molokai where about 37 Hansen's disease patients are living, 80-year-old bar owner Elaine Remigio says she is unsure what is going to happen, but she is confident residents will get through it.

Remigio, who sells beer, wine, soda, ice cream and cigarettes at Elaine's Place, said she tries to buy a month's supply for her business.

Remigio recalled the worst shortage occurred during World War II, when supplies were rationed. "You had to get written permission to get a little range, a small stove," she said.

Pacific Maritime Association

International Longshore and Warehouse Union

E-mail to City Desk


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